On Friday, we woke up early, because of LAST DAY OF SCHOOL! LAST DAY! WA-HOO! AND HIP-HIP-HURRAY!
It didn’t take me long to reign in my enthusiasm, because it was a bittersweet day. Yes, I was looking forward to having the boy at home with me during the days. I was thrilled to be looking at a long line of unstructured, lazy summer days, where the most grueling decisions we had to make would be WHAT FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM SHOULD WE ORDER TODAY and SHOULD WE SHOWER BEFORE NOON? And I was grinning about the idea of not having to drill multiplication flashcards every night, and don’t even get me started on the relief I was going to feel on not having to force the boy to sit at the desk and do his homework every afternoon. But then, on the flip side of all of that, the 4th grade was ending for us. We had officially accomplished five of our six years at the boy’s elementary school. We were going to be saying good-bye to another great teacher, and low! The boy was going to be home all day from here on out, and HE WAS GOING TO BE BORED!
No matter. Time waits for no one. It takes your adorable newborn baby boy, and it grows him right up through the 4th grade, even though you yell, “Stop! I don’t want him to get any older than this!” over and over, until you’re plum hoarse.
And until people outside start to stare at you, like your marble bag is dropping a few precious, glass cat’s eyes and commies.
(I’ve never been one who has all of my marbles in the same bag, anyway.)
The boy’s school had an enormous assembly on Friday morning, where awards of all kinds were given out. The boy managed to snag a pretty weighty one, as a short story that he wrote earlier this year managed to snag First Place at the state level. His principal and Mrs. E., one of the writing teachers, had him come up and stand with them, while everyone clapped.
(And that Mrs. E.? Well…she was MY 4th grade teacher!)
The boy’s mama probably clapped the loudest for him, until she nearly dropped her camera, because she was bursting with pride over the boy’s hard-earned writing accomplishment.
Way to go, Boy!
Afterward, everyone went outside, while a couple of teachers chucked water balloons from the rooftop. Naturally, the kids congregated beneath the teachers like mosquitoes hover around a shallow mud puddle. Mr. D. and Mr. N. showed no mercy whatsoever as they threw water-filled grenades at the kids’ heads. They were, in fact, PLUM AIMING for heads!
I was minding my own business, happily talking to one of the 5th grade teachers, when Mr. N. launched one at us. We didn’t see it coming because of MUCH TALKING, and I took a direct hit to the knee. There may have been a small scream involved. We were much more diligent about being aware of our surroundings in the War Zone after that, once we realized who our enemies were!
Eventually, the boy’s 3rd grade teacher from last year wandered over to say hello. She’s always game for a quick group shot. Oh, how we love that girl! Our hearts plum broke in half last year when we left her behind us.
When every last burrito wrapper and sandwich baggie had been tossed into the garbage can, one of the 4th grade teachers got a fast-paced game of football going. He asked me if I wanted to quarterback for the opposing team.
First of all, I loved his use of the word QUARTERBACK as a verb. And second of all, FRESH MANICURE. Need I say more? I simply stuck to being the journalist with the camera on the sidelines.
When everyone was dripping with sweat, and after I had suffered a full nervous breakdown from all the wind, which kept blowing my hair straight into my lip gloss and blowing my fancy silk scarf straight into my face, we all went inside.
And we said good-bye to Mrs. G.
There were a few tears because of LOVE HER! I can’t imagine having had any other teacher yank the boy through the 4th grade. Mrs. G. was his Mom Away From Home, and we appreciated that. She hounded him for late assignments; she praised him for straight A’s. She separated him from Kellen when they talked too much; she gave them fun projects to work on. Plus, Mrs. G. introduced the boys to the Fabelhaven books this year, which thrilled them like nothing has since Harry Potter and Dobby.
I am so sorry. They’re ALL coming your way in late August! Fill your Valium prescriptions now. They’re adorable, but they’re squirrely. And they talk. They talk A LOT.
And then here’s a quick snapshot of the boy and Carter. For the record, Carter doesn’t always look THIS cool. Sometimes he looks downright nerdy. (I think those glassless glasses SCREAM for tape wrapped around the middle!)
…we were OFFICIALLY on Summer Vacation.
Which meant that we piled into the Suburban and hit the open road.
Hubs had been in Phoenix all week, taking a class on some new computer networking blah-blah-blah.
Seriously. He lost me at, “I’ll be in Phoenix for…”
Hubs flew into Bigger Town on Friday afternoon, so we grabbed Jodi and her three kids, and we drove north to collect Hubs. The plan was for Jodi’s husband, Gabe, to meet us up there when he got off work.
Which means that Gabe arrived PRECISELY three minutes after we did, because we may have had to stop at our house AGAIN for a dose of antibiotics that I forgot to give to the boy, and we may have had to hit McDonald’s, because two burritos from Taco Bell hadn’t filled the boy’s hollow leg, and we may have had to stop and gather up swimming goggles, which we’d also forgotten.
After retrieving Hubs, we took the kids to the big, indoor water park, as an end-of-the-school-year celebration.
I managed to get Ciara and the boy and Blaine to hold still for exactly three seconds so that I could snap this picture.
To say that they were excited is the absolute UNDERSTATEMENT OF 2011. They swam and swam and swam, until they’d all managed to swim themselves right past the point of SHEER EXHAUSTION. For the record, Sheer Exhaustion is reached after four full hours of racing up and down a flight of stairs that is three stories tall, so that they can blast themselves down the water slides.
Which we did.
And then we took them all for a late-night trip to the ice cream parlor.
And then, back at the motel room, the boy managed to rattle on and talk and talk and talk, telling us one grand story after another, until it was almost midnight.
You cannot even begin to imagine the level of my happiness the following morning, when Jodi found GENUINE LIQUID, FRENCH VANILLA COFFEE MATE at the continental breakfast bar! While everyone else made waffles and loaded their plates high with scrambled eggs and bagels and sausages and hashbrowns and hard-boiled eggs and cold cereal, Mama put away two cups of coffee, and then said, “There. I can now face the day.”
(Never mind that the caffeine had my heart racing and my eyes dilated and my hands shaking.)
And what a day it was, because we went to the batting cages! And, oh my sweet lands! Bigger Town has batting cages the likes of which Small Town knows nothing about! Everyone batted. And batted. And batted. AND THEN WE ALL BATTED SOME MORE! We batted until Jodi decided that she’d dislocated her shoulder and until my legs throbbed from squatting down on the 50 mph baseball machine, because the strike-zone was made for SHORT 4th grade boys, which meant that the blasted strike zone was AT MY KNEES. We batted until Hubs had gotten the timing just right on the 60 mph pitching machine, so that he could rip homeruns. We batted until Gabe said, “My hands are aching, but I totally rocked those last five pitches out of the ballfield, people!”
Sadly, the children didn’t seem affected by two hours in the batting cages at all.
Although we would tend to think that OLD PEOPLE might have some physical ailments after such strenuous batting, Jodi and I decided that surely this was not the reason, because we are just barely out of high school.
For some reason, I kept wanting to hum the theme song from Top Gun whenever I looked at Ciara in those sunglasses on Saturday.
Which amounts to nothing, really, as my kingdom is quite small and barely reaches beyond the washer and dryer.
But look at this face! Can you understand why Hubs and I discussed making a run for the Canadian border late Friday night, when Leah left her family behind and walked with us, downstairs to our motel room, so that the boy could get his shoes before we went out for ice cream? We had her, without her parents. And Hubs and I decided that we could be in Canada quite quickly!
The boy is completely powerless to resist Leah, as well. He informed me that he wants a Chinese sister, too, and that it’s completely UNFAIR that Ciara and Blaine got to adopt a sister from China, while he did not.
Leah managed to find a couple of little sticks, and she pretended that they were scissors. She told the boy to lean down, so that she could cut his hair. Hubs and I would have paid for Leah’s entire college tuition, if she’d had REAL scissors and given him a REAL haircut!
On the way to the little fun park, Gabe made the mistake of informing the boy that he believed the height requirement for driving a go-cart SOLO was fifty inches. The boy was plum thrilled, because he was JUST CERTAIN! OH SO VERY CERTAIN! that he could pass that requirement, if he stood next to a yardstick on his tippytoes. He began jabbering on and on about how he was going to drive fast and pass on corners and skip pit stops and BEAT EVERYONE.
And then we had some enormous tears, and we heard about how completely unfair life is, because you had to be fifty-eight inches tall, with no exceptions whatsoever, in order to drive your own go-cart. The boy was five full inches too short.
Thankfully, driving the bumper boats is a little less restrictive, height-wise, so the kids could all go solo there.
Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! THAT was a no-brainer! Hubs would have lapped me a ridiculous amount of times anyway, because I tend to drive slowly, ESPECIALLY ON THE CORNERS, so I was more than happy to hold Leah’s hand and watch the Indianapolis 500 pan out in front of us.
When everyone loaded into the go-carts, Hubs nudged the boy toward the steering wheel. He didn’t have to ask HIM twice! The boy pounced on the wheel like a rat on a Cheeto, and he drove for all he was worth. The second time around, though, they didn’t have the same luck. That time, the attendant on duty paid attention when everyone loaded into the cars, and he informed the boy that FIFTY-EIGHT INCHES! YOU MUST BE FIFTY-EIGHT INCHES TALL TO DRIVE! In the second race, the boy grudgingly became the passenger.
But look at this grin when he PLUM BROKE THE RULES and got to DRIVE during the first race!
Well, we learned that Hubs and Gabe MAY POSSIBLY BE a wee bit competitive when it comes to driving. And that, people, simply reinforced my reason for staying behind with Leah. I would have gotten myself run over out there. I would have been a fatality on the go-cart track, with Hubs’ and Gabe’s tire marks across the back of my head.
It may have something to do with my Sunday Afternoon Driver mentality.
(Slow. In the driveway. On Sundays. And brake for the corners. Exactly like Rain Man would do it.)
It also may have something to do with the fact that the last time I raced go-carts with Hubs and his dad, neither one of them would give an inch of leeway to the other one, and THEY BOTH lapped me seven times.
Racing is not my spiritual gift.
After everyone had finished up with the go-carts and the very last tear about being too short to drive one solo was dried up, we called it a weekend.
And Mama went home to put some Icy Hot on all the muscles I pulled while I was batting.
And that, people, is how we said good-bye to the 4th grade and kicked off our Summer Vacation.
Happy Monday night.